On the Homestead Today

Welcome!

Welcome! Come on in! Let me grab you something to drink.

I am so glad you are here on the homestead today. I was looking forward to having someone to share this story with.

But, I have got to ask you. When was the last time you got your hands dirty? What about the last time you grew something? You don’t have to be on the homestead to appreciate that kind of therapy? I love it and I find it very satisfying to get my hands into the dirt and seeds. It’s healthy to play in the muck a little. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.

Memory Lane

I remember growing up in small-town Ontario. We lived about a mile from the north shore of Lake Ontario, an hour east of the city. Back then it was a small town, these days it is a small city. Having recently moved back to the area, I hardly recognize it. It certainly was not a homestead. Just a house in town with a large yard.

I regularly drive by the house I grew up in. My heart aches to wander down those halls and climb those stairs. But not nearly as much though as my heart aches to touch the trees I climbed back then. I want to look at the gardens through the back window.

It was Icky!

That garden morphed and changed over the years. I saw some things that I didn’t understand back then. Now I can look back with nostalgia.

I had been out playing in the sandbox. A cluster of noisy much older brothers and their buddies had been away for a few days. They came home, 4-5 of these big guys climbed out of this tiny little red car. An Austin Mini, but the 4-year-old didn’t know what that meant.

Laughing and raucous they dropped their yellow canvas bags. Some of them had light brown teardrop-shaped bags with red strings on the back porch and grabbed the garden hose. One of them pulled out this really skinny knife and a few dead fish out of the stinky bag. As a 4-year-old, I had no idea what they were doing, or why. It was just “icky” and it smelled bad! And they were really loud!

Noisy!

A few weeks later, my sister’s husband was dragging out this noisy machine. He used it to chew up the ground. I had no idea what a rototiller was. Heck, I could barely say the word, and I certainly wasn’t allowed to help. I also watched as he carried buckets of dirt out of the trunk of his big green car. He was at it again, he dug these extra grooves in the garden he had just rototilled. Next, he dumped some really stinky dirt that he called manure into these grooves, then ran that noisy machine again.

He planted lots of seeds, and some little plants too. I didn’t understand all of this, but I certainly was curious. Mom gave me a packet of big seeds and showed me where I was allowed to plant them. This would be my very own garden. I would have to wait and see if these seeds made a plant. Maybe I would be able to eat stuff off of these plants later.

My Plants.

As eager little kids plant seeds, they are impatient to see instant results. That little garden was checked on every day. Giving it a little bit of water from my tiny little plastic watering can whenever a grown-up reminded me. Letting me play with the garden hose was a huge thrill for me. I was overjoyed when the tiny little sprouts came out of the ground. But of course, being a girly girl I was ecstatic when the big leaves sprouted and they were heart shaped.

Of course, my interest waned, and I found other things to captivate the attention of a 4-year-old. Mud pies, caterpillars and ladybugs, earthworms, several days being covered with Noxema on my redhead complexion. All distractions of childhood. Eventually, my interest returned to the garden. Look there are some little white flowers on my plants! and what are those tiny bugs? I’ve never seen that kind of bug before. Well, I learned about aphids and garden dust that day. Who knew I was being taught organic gardening right from day 1?

Organic Gardening.

I watched as my brother-in-law sprinkled dust on every garden row. I was over-joyed when I was allowed to stick my hand into the bucket. Tight-fisted I grabbed a kid-sized handful of dust and powdered my own plants. While I was doing the last plant I turned around and saw this green thing hanging down. It wasn’t a leaf, and it wasn’t a bug. I soon found out, it was a green bean. Of course, I had no clue what a green bean was. I was legally stupid. I was 4!

While checking on my little green bean, and other plants, I was sad the flowers were falling off. Little did I realize that there were now lots of beans growing in their place. After another week went by, I had forgotten completely about the flowers. I was excited to see those beans growing.

I remember the day my mom squatted down beside me and showed me how to pick one. She wiped the dirt off of that first green bean with just her hand and snapped off the end. She took a bite and handed the rest to me. “Mmm, garden fresh beans” she muttered. “You will never have food better than the things you pick right out of your own garden. They are yummy to eat straight away.” I don’t know if we got a meal’s worth of beans from my plants that year, but I sure did eat many of them raw. From that point onward the gardening seeds had been planted in me. Organic methods had been taught to me without being called organic.

Saying Thanks!

I guess, if I could, I should say Thanks to the man who introduced me to all of this. He hasn’t been a part of the family for many years. This was only the beginning of the journey to homesteading.

I have had many more brushes with the whole concept of organic gardening before that term was even widely used. It was just “gardening”, nothing else. This is how we did things back in the early ’70s. Who knew we would become so removed from it, and return to it so strongly. Now grocery stores are selling the products of this trend for 30% mark up from the new standards. Now things have to be “certified” to have the official label of “Organic”. This is a good thing, so we know we can trust the sources when we are buying commercially. However, if we are growing our own food, organic or not is just about 100% in our own control.  

In Control

Since those days of a happy go lucky 4-year-old eating her own fresh green beans, there have been many more encounters and occurrences that have lead me down this path. I am excited to share these stories with you, keep on reading about organic gardening if you like. I’m always happy to see you! Thanks for dropping by!

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